Covid-19 has undone 25 years of global health progress in 25 weeks

Mutually exacerbating catastrophes.” This is how the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation describes Covid-19 and its knock-on effects, in its newly released report on the state of global health and development for 2020.

That an organization typically of keen optimism, which has made it a mission to consistently highlight how the world has improved in the past few decades, admits the challenge in such dramatic terms is quite telling, although hardly unwarranted.

Infant and childhood mortality; maternal health; the financial sustainability of agriculture; HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria incidence; access to education; gender equality; access to toilets and clean water: All these global development indicators worsened in 2020, or showed no progress for the first time in decades. It took Covid-19 25 weeks to put the world back about 25 years in terms of development, according to the report.

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